Construction on Minico High School’s new ag building is ready to start. The metal framing for the school’s $5.9 million building was scheduled to be delivered at the end of February. Contractors estimate the building and its 10 new classrooms will take 10 months to complete once construction begins. The school’s ag teachers hope to be in the building at the start of the winter 2025 semester.

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“To see what this is going to do for all of career and technical education in Minidoka County is going to be really awesome,” says Jessica Stapelman, an ag teacher and FFA Advisor at the high school in Rupert.

With a footprint about half the size of a football field, the new building will double the lab space available for the school’s welding, food science, animal science, ag mechanics and plant science classes. Even while doubling its space, the ag program will still have extra room to accommodate future growth.

“The classroom space will be huge. Each one of the teachers will have a classroom plus a lab for each area that they teach,” says ag teacher and welding instructor Rick Stimpson. “The shop is way bigger than what we have now.”


Minico ag students participate in a groundbreaking for the school’s new ag building in 2023. Courtesy photo.

The 120-foot-by-300-foot building will be built on land the district acquired about five years ago. Stimpson, who also serves as chairman of the Minidoka Education Foundation, says he remembers the first discussions for such a building began more than a decade ago. The project has been regaining traction the last few years. The foundation had raised $800,000 for the project but received a significant boost last year. That’s when the state of Idaho announced it was awarding Minico’s project $4.9 million from the state’s Career Ready Students grant fund. That fund will also benefit another Idaho ag education program: It will provide nearly $2.3 million toward a new ag building at New Plymouth High School in western Treasure Valley.


To illustrate the need for a new space, Stimpson uses his welding class size and facilities as an example. He says enrollment in his class is currently capped at 24 students. He currently only has six welding booths for students to practice welding or work on projects. However, with the new building, that number will increase fourfold to 24 booths.

“At that point, I could technically teach 30 kids, and they’d all get twice as much welding time during class compared to what they’re getting right now,” Stimpson says.


Construction on Minico High School’s new ag building is scheduled to begin March 2024. The building and its 10 new classrooms will take months to complete and could be ready by early 2025. Courtesy photo.

Stapelman, Stimpson and Minico’s two other full-time ag teachers, Sophie Cowgill and Layton Bohlman, teach 500 students per day. The school has 48 agriculture course offerings each year, with increasing demand from students.

“Our preregistration numbers each year will tell you that we could support another teacher because of the demand for our ag classes,” Stapelman says. “We are bursting at the seams right now.”

Stapelman says the new facility should benefit the whole school and not just ag students. That’s because as ag teachers vacate their current classrooms and shop areas, other programs will gain the spaces they leave behind. This will most likely benefit the woodshop, diesel tech and engineering programs.

“When you talk to other ag educators, I don’t hear them say they always have the support that we have from our school board and administration,” Stimpson says. “We are very grateful to have that. It’s helped out a ton on this project.”